Prenuptial Agreement – How It Can Protect Your Future

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A prenuptial agreement is not a bewildering term that you should be fearful of. Some couples often jump out of their seats at the very idea of it. Probably because it sounds more like a formalized deal than a loving exchange. The term just has a threatening aura around it.

Prenuptial agreements are far from that though. Even though they seem to steal the inherent emotionality there is to marriage, they are more of a safety net. And safety nets can be a good thing. While marriage is a beautiful and delightful experience, it is a legally binding contract in itself too. Simply because it roots itself in love and affection does not mean that those things are enough to keep it up and running.

A prenuptial agreement is not going to de-romanticize your marriage, rest assured. So your thoughts on a prenup should not be all negative. It might incite some disagreements and invite some revelations. The process might also be a little tedious. However, it is worth the safety net it will provide in the long run.

If you’re entertaining the thoughts of getting one before you say “I do”, you’re bound to have some questions about a pre-nuptial agreement, such as: What should you ask for in a prenup? What does a prenuptial agreement protect? Does a prenup protect future assets? With experienced lawyer Tahini Bhushan, who specializes in gender violence and sexual harassment cases, let’s address all of these concerns today.

Prenuptial Agreements Definition

Before we answer and understand what should a woman ask for in a prenup or why should a man sign a prenuptial agreement, let’s first understand what this piece of paper really is. A prenuptial agreement, more commonly referred to as a ‘prenup’, is essentially a legalized agreement signed by two people before they get married. It is sometimes also called an Antenuptial agreement to help one leave a marriage peacefully.

This document, however, does not define chores, responsibilities or answers difficult questions for you like “Whose parents’ house are we going to for thanksgiving?” While it would be nice to have a piece of paper that could make those decisions for us, this document covers base on some broader and much bigger aspects of marriage.

Tahini tells us, “Prenups are contracts that couples can enter into before they tie the knot. They are contingent upon the fact that in case, they do separate or break up, this contract helps them navigate that whole thing much better. Usually, both parties have usually a considerable amount of net worth before they enter into a marriage. So they want to be mindful of how they protect themselves, in case they might not be together anymore in the future.”

Related Reading: Cohabitation – Everything You Need To Know About It

What does a prenuptial agreement protect? Possessions such as properties, assets and even children’s rights undergo a lot of difficult tussle in the event of a divorce, separation or untimely demise. Signing a prenup can make these stressful situations somewhat easier to handle.

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This formal contract mentions the transfer of ownership, transfer of money, division of property between a couple in the event of a divorce or death. This outline is meant to help things become fairer and less complicated. Your financial roles are agreed upon and specified in this document.

During a divorce, our emotions, anxieties and grievances can get the better of our sensibilities. In order to keep the process fair, couples choose to sign these agreements and decide earlier on what happens to their things before they part their ways. Seems like a logical thing to do, doesn’t it? But what should you ask for in a prenup? Read on…

Is Getting A Prenup A Good Idea?

Prenuptial agreements are a very practical thing to invest your time and energies in. No matter how scary they may sound or seem, they really are not a death sentence. On the contrary, they can be quite liberating and there’s a good chance you might just thank it in the future. 

Marriage is not only a union of two lovers but is also a union of their material baggage. In that case, prenuptial agreements do protect future assets that you plan to build together or ones that you are already bringing into the marriage. This material baggage could definitely use some organizing before you dive straight into a long-term commitment with another person.

So let us look into the question, what does a prenuptial agreement protect?

An easy answer to that question: It essentially protects you.

Whether it is your capital assets, acquired wealth or even your own home, a prenup will protect you from any legal and lethal war games. Prenups have always been a valid choice for people in the United States. It was even uniformly recognized in the 1983 Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.

Related Reading: Things To Discuss Before Marriage With Your Prospective Life Partner

Is It Worth Getting A Prenup?

There are many benefits of a prenup but it can also be helpful to also take a look at the downsides of the same. Is it worth getting a prenup? Take a look at the table below and decide for yourself.

ProsCons
1. Productive for the relationship overall: Prenups bring with them a sense of maturity and responsibility. Love or intense feelings of infatuation can make one feel carried away but a healthy discussion about money matters is always helpful1. Your partner might feel cornered and afraid: And worse, develop trust issues too. It is possible that your partner might not enjoy the whole discussion around signing a prenup and might question your intentions of being in the relationship
2. Safeguarding the children: If you are bringing children into the marriage or are definitely hopeful for them in the future, signing a prenup is advisable2. Hiring a lawyer is expensive: You may feel like it is a silly investment to get a lawyer for yourself to help you draft a prenup
3. Eases a divorce proceeding: One of the benefits of a prenup is that it saves a lot of time and energy in the event of divorce. If everything is already well laid out in a prenup, the divorce proceeding in the future will be quick and also inexpensive3. Couples don’t put enough thought into it: Many couples sign prenups when they are under the spell of being deeply in love and do not ask for their needs rationally. This can lead to strifes in the future when an actual divorce is happening

More and more people are opting for prenups

Today, people are gradually delaying their marriages to later stages in their lives. Careers are taking precedence. When careers take the steering wheel, financial stability, independence and acquisition take the shotgun seat. Now that people are more aware of handling their finances, it is better for them to know how to secure and adjust the same.

Prenuptial agreements are a milestone considering the changing times. For example, let’s say you have inherited a family home in the Hamptons. The house has been in your family for generations. While you do not visit the house much, it is an old house, sentimentally close to you, and rapidly appreciating in monetary value.

For the sake of the argument, let’s say you and your spouse get a divorce and they stake a claim on the house. Or when you die, the house is at the disposal of your spouse. They may remarry and don’t see the emotional value in the home anymore. Instead of close kin, your family home will be under the control of a past spouse.

They might sell it or worse, open an ice-cream shop in its place. Now, you would not be happy about either of those scenarios. Nor would your family. Save the trauma, sign a prenup and seal the future of the home. So you see a prenuptial agreement does protect your property just like a cohabitation agreement does.

Related Reading: Prenuptial agreements – weighing the pros and the cons

What Are The Requirements For A Valid Prenuptial Agreement?

No matter how insulating they are in nature, prenups are not a one-sided assertion of your rights and wishes. It is still a compromise arising from extensive discussion, understanding and consent between two people who want to get married someday.

You cannot simply waltz into a room with a paper heavily inked with your demands and expect your partner to obey. What should a man ask for in a prenup? As a woman, what are some of the demands that you want to assert in a prenup? Here are some strategic ways to prepare for a valid prenuptial agreement:

1. What kind of a lawyer do I need for a prenuptial agreement?

reasons to do a prenup
Partners must discuss assets and debts with honesty

No, we are not preparing you for war. Prenups are hardly as taxing as divorces, but they can be a lengthy and consultative affair too. It is best when each party has their own attorney working alongside them. You need your own lawyer who knows how to write a prenup or has some experience in the same. The process is not all too complicated but someone with good knowledge of the same will always be better.

Yes, this seems like a divisive action that mellows down the pre-wedding excitement. However, excitement can make way for some practicality. Sometimes a prenup is just as important as buying first-night wedding gifts for your husband.

Tahini says, “Prenups, if discussed beforehand with lawyers, just make the job much easier in the long run in the face of a divorce. It diminishes any burden on the courts and makes the whole process of a divorce in the future less expensive. Regardless of the net worth of the parties, couples should ideally invest in a lawyer now to avoid a long litigation process in the future.”

2. Lay all your cards on the table

To avoid complete vulnerability in the future, you have to sit down and be vulnerable today. Both parties must be completely honest during this process and openly express their net worth and reveal ownership of everything. Even inheritance that could possibly make way to you in the future should be revealed. If you have the right amount of understanding in your relationship, your thoughts about prenup would be honest and practical.

3. Create a checklist of all that you would like to address in your prenup

Your prenups are your own decisions. They can be as generous as you like but preferably not too coarse either. Setting up alimony, access to funds, transfer of ownership – these concerns are at your sole discretion. However, these concerns must be addressed systematically.

What should a man ask for in a prenup? If the man has children from previous marriages, monetary allocation regarding their future should also be addressed by the prenup and he should keep that aside. If you are planning to have children in the future, their inheritance can also be determined by a well-thought-out prenup. However, custodial decisions regarding children have no room here. Talk money, and not who gets the children on the weekends.

4. Think about your future too

What should you ask for in a prenup is also an important concern that you must not forget to evaluate. Prenups are built on fairness and you might be on the receiving end once in a while. Avoid getting too greedy but also do not let love smother your decision-making.

So what should a woman ask for in a prenup? She should consider protecting her assets, her business if she is a working woman. But if she is a homemaker, then she should address compensation or alimony for herself. A prenup has to be a balancing act where you balance between love and practicality. The thoughts about a prenup should not involve the breakup of a relationship even before you have started together. It should mean that you are being sensible in case a breakup happens. That’s all.

Tahini says, “The conversation around prenups can certainly be awkward but things are changing nowadays. Couples are now becoming bold enough to have these conversations and understand the fact that not all marriages are meant to last forever. Which is why many couples are actually growing happy to have that chit-chat without any judgments.”

Related Reading: 30 Most Romantic Marriage Proposal Ideas

5. Maintain dignity and respect during deliberations

Consent in prenups is as important as consent anywhere else. Think about why you need a prenup. It is not merely a contract to defensively and aggressively protect your life’s work. It is the accommodation of a new individual in your world and an establishment of how much you would want to share. Sharing is caring but sharing is not snatching or averting.

Keep the pressure low during these deliberations and take a considerate view of your partner’s happiness as well. Dr. Dre, the famous rapper, has been recently embroiled in a scandal, with his wife calling him out for coercing her into a prenup. While we cannot comment on the truth in that information, it is a terribly sad thing to do that could affect your future prospects in wedlock and in business.

prenup agreement
Partners must discuss assets and debts with honesty

How Much Can A Prenup Protect You?

It’s a mistake to assume that prenups are only helpful to those who are wealthy or soaring financially. It is surmised that itty bitty businesses or middle-class households do not necessarily require the same organization of money. However, that is a blaring falsity.

Why you need a prenup is not a question that is answered by the enormity of your bank account. It is actually determined by how much you are willing to risk emotionally and financially. Marriage, just like everything else in life, is not set in stone. In the US 40-50% of marriages end in divorce.

Life can change sooner than we think. It is when we least expect something monumental to happen, it slips right under us and we fall prey to a range of confusions. Marriages can be like that too. Nobody goes into a marriage expecting it to end, but the reality is, that it always can. While a prenup cannot salvage the heartbreak, it sure can protect you from the risk of grave financial instability.

1. Protecting your personal wealth with a prenuptial agreement

To ensure easy distribution of wealth and property between one’s spouse and kids, prenups have a heavy hand in the same. It’s like an insurance policy but without the hassles of an insurance company. With a prenup, you can decide prematurely, how much wealth you lay aside and divide between your spouse and kids. In a prenup, you can include all the things that you expect to earn in the future and invest in assets so that there are no skirmishes over money.

For example, Tahini says, “Say someone has a business right now and wants to get married and their partner is not part of it. They’ve put the work into their business all on their own and let’s assume it scales up extremely well after the marriage. Without a prenup in place, your partner might just be able to walk away with half of that stake just in case your marriage takes a turn for the worse as it’s thrown into the common property clause.”

Related Reading: Marriage Counseling – 15 Goals That Should Be Addressed Says Therapist

2. To keep you debt-free

If your partner has individually acquired debt that you may or may not know about, that debt may creep up on you during a divorce or after their death. A prenup is a magic paper that can make such debts go away and that is one of the major benefits of a prenup.

By specifying your lack of responsibility toward it, you will never have to assume it. Truly dodged a bullet there. By signing a prenup you are actually protecting yourself from a debt that you didn’t incur but could have had to pay. This thought around a prenuptial agreement is really sensible and can save you a lot of hassles in the future.

3. In case you do not like your state laws

When you do not have a prenuptial agreement, the state laws determine how your capital is distributed in case of a divorce. While these do provide certain protections, you might not love everything about them. Our advice is you look into them extensively or sign a prenup and make your own rules instead.

Tahini gave us the following example about Harrison Ford’s divorce. “Harrison Ford’s first wife wrote the Indiana Jones series but did not hold the copyrights. Her husband did. And it took a long fight for her against the state to be able to get 50% rights over her own work when they got divorced. This is how the whole situation can get far messier and you will have to take it to court without a prenup in place,” she explains.

4. Save your investments and business plans

Marriages can be as uncertain as our future ventures. It may not seem necessary at the time but you might want to invest somewhere greatly or change the operations of a current business.

In order to do that with ease and not give up half your earnings to your ex-spouse, a prenup can be very helpful. A prenup will protect your future assets. Divorces are messy and you do not want someone you wouldn’t get into bed with literally, to acquire your business.

marriage and money

5. Alimony, child support and affairs

We all opine differently on how we would want to spend our money after a divorce. A divorce itself without the guidelines of a prenuptial agreement can be a lengthy and extensive affair. You can avoid spending thousands of dollars on divorce proceedings to discuss more money-losing scenarios like alimony by navigating these eventualities through a prenup.

A healthy discussion pre-marriage about the possible consequences of a divorce and investments in child support should be cleared earlier on with a prenup. Tahini tells us, “A prenup also drives how a person might behave in a relationship. If there is a clause regarding affairs and a higher level of compensation attached to the same, it could restrain one from doing such a thing during the marriage.”

Related Reading: Tips for Getting Through The First Year Of Marriage

It can be assumed that a prenup is not the consequence of a lack of love. Your marriage will continue to be happy, fulfilling and trusting. Prenuptial agreements are simply the prevalence of some wisdom and future concerns. Therefore, while your marriage will consist of some pre-wedding jitters, you must also proceed with caution. Love is a beautiful thing and marriage only makes it better. However, make sure that love doesn’t blind your decision-making skills. Don’t compromise on affection but also do not compromise on yourself.

FAQs

1. Who needs a prenup?

Why you need a prenup is not a question that is answered by the enormity of your bank account. It is actually determined by how much you are willing to risk emotionally and financially. Marriage, just like everything else in life, is not set in stone. In the US 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. So a prenup is a pertinent step for just about anyone.

2. Do prenups ruin marriages?

No, it doesn’t. It makes the marriage smooth sailing because even before you tie the knot you are assured that your future is protected financially and your children will have their rights in case of a divorce or demise of a spouse.

3. Should I be offended by a prenup?

There is nothing to be offended by a prenup. If you are a sensible and practical person, you will see the positives of having a prenup in place.

4. What happens if you don’t sign a prenup?

Nothing particularly but it is an important thing when it comes to divorce advice. Not all couples in the US have a prenup. But if you sign one you can avoid spending thousands of dollars on divorce proceedings to discuss more money-losing scenarios like alimony by navigating these eventualities through a prenup.

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